Friday, April 30, 2010

It’s here, it’s big and it’s just a bit intimidating...

Finally, 4 weeks after ordering it, my new camera is here. And it appears to be working this time.

My new Canon EOS 7D is a lovely bit of kit, by all accounts. It has been very well reviewed in the photography press and other photographers I know who have one are singing its praises.

Unfortunately when mine arrived from Calumet Photographic a few weeks ago, it failed to recognise any memory cards and I had to send it back. It transpired there was a bent pin in the memory card slot, and I was told that was usually caused by someone putting in the memory card the wrong way round.

Anyway, after much time, investigations by Canon, and several phone calls and emails to Calumet from me, I was told earlier in the week the bent pin was not in the usual place where these things happen so it was concluded it was unlikely to be something I’d done, so I was entitled to a replacement.

It arrived on Wednesday morning.

Unfortunately I’ve been so busy with last minute preparations for the launch of the exhibition this weekend that I only got it out of the box this a few hours ago.

Now while I am, of course, very excited about my new camera, I have to confess I’m also completely intimidated by it.

The manual is over 250 pages thick, for one thing. Usually this is because it also contains the instructions in 20 other languages, but not this one - it’s entirely in English.

There are so many dials, buttons and menu options, it’s going to be a long time before I become familiar enough to understand and be comfortable with all the things it can do.

So at the moment, I keep pulling it out, looking at it, pressing a button, then putting it back again and going away to do something else.

Once this weekend is past, I’ll have a proper play with it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Press Release...

With a thousand and one thanks to V, the blogger from Learning to be Selfish, press releases have been sent out to the local rags to help promote the exhibition.

And sure enough, the Dumfries & Galloway Standard picked it up and in the Friday edition had an article, New exhibition challenges contemporary portraiture

My first press entry for my first exhibition!

It’s just a shame they spelt my name wrong, didn’t mention when it is, and refer to me as “she” throughout…

Click here for original article

I mean, as it was largely a cut ‘n’ paste job, someone had to actually go through it and change all the “he”s to “she”s

As you can imagine, this isn’t the first time I’ve suffered from mistaken gender, and I daresay it won’t be the last.

Although the best example still has to be when the Health Centre sent me an appointment for a cervical smear…

Monday, April 19, 2010

Exhibition Poster

Less than 2 weeks to the exhibtion now, so I thought I'd better get a poster designed and printed up:

I'm looking for as much help with publicity as I can muster, so if you'd like to print up a copy and stick it in your window, in shop windows in your town, or email to friends, it would be a great help.

It's available either as a JPG image or in PDF Format, which you can download by clicking on either of the following links.

And if you live in a part of the world where no one would have any idea where Gatehouse of Fleet is, you can stick one on your wall as a keepsake :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Exhibtion, book, camera, food, sleep, life and blogging

Blogging has taken a bit of a back seat lately. Unlike previous problems of not knowing what to blog about, at the moment there is too much, but not enough time.

Preparations for the “Staring Back” exhibition (now only 2 weeks away) continue and the mounted prints have finally arrived from the company I decided to use. They are all slightly darker than I would ideally have liked, but not fatally so.

Seeing all 24 together for the first time was quite overwhelming and I’m now really excited about how they will all look when up in the gallery.

Having all the images in digital format to begin with, as well as the writings I’ve created to go along each one, I realised making a book of the exhibition might not be too complicated.

So I am now in the process of putting together a photo book of “Staring Back” using software downloaded from, which will be available online to anyone who would like to view and have a copy of all the images and writings, but can’t make it along to the actual exhibition. It will also give me a wonderful record of the event.

Realising I had reached the limitations of my camera while shooting for the exhibition, Maggie and I worked out a plan on how we might secure me a better one without having to sell the children, although we will be tightening the belts for a long time to come.

After lots of research I finally settled on a Canon EOS 7D. After more research I found a company that offered it at a good price, and it arrived last week.

Unfortunately it wouldn’t recognise or format the memory card despite several attempts, so I returned it. Apparently one of the pins that slots into the card is bent. Apparently Canon would never have let a camera out of the production line like that. Apparently the most likely cause is something I have done. You can imagine my thoughts about that…

The company I am dealing with says they have sent the camera to Canon and are awaiting to hear their verdict and outcome before any battle commences. With any luck they will be thinking of the big picture. As a new Canon camera owner, if all goes to plan I will probably be using Canons for the rest of my life, as once you start buying lenses that are built for Canons, then it becomes a costly process to switch to a system like Nikon, for example. So getting into conflict over a bent pin could cost them many thousands of pounds of lost business in the future, not to mention blog posts of outrage.

Sort it out without a fuss and they can expect a lifetime of Canon loyalty and blog posts of praise.

It could be another week before I hear anything

Several weeks ago I went to see a nutritionist in the hope of finding an alternate route to tackling the Chronic Fatigue, having been pretty much abandoned by the medical system with lots of shoulder shrugging.

Possible Candida – an excess of yeast in the system – has meant I have had to avoid anything with yeast, sugar or equivalents, fruit, dried fruit, anything fermented (not just alcohol, but vinegar, soy sauce etc), and anything mushroom or fungi based (including quorn products).

Still no sign of improvement in my condition yet.

Sleep (or lack thereof)
Looking back through my records, it was discovered I was supposed to be referred for a trial for a machine that tackles sleep apnoea, after the sleep clinic trial results nearly a year ago. I was possibly borderline, but the general sense was there’s nothing to lose by trying.

So for the last 2 nights I’ve slept far worse than I ever have, because of a mask strapped over my nose pumping air up it all night. Every time I move, I wake up because of it. And every time my mouth opens and I unconsciously begin to take in air through it, it’s like trying to breathe with your head stuck out the window of a car doing 90mph. And that wakes me up too.

Summing up
With press releases to write, posters to design, book to finish compiling, and tiredness levels reaching a new extreme, life is keeping me away from blogging for more time than since I started nearly 5 years ago.

So my apologies for not checking in more often, or visiting other blogs, but when things calm down a bit, I’ll begin writing more frequently again.


Thursday, April 08, 2010


August 2009
Dad, can you show me how to shave before the school holidays are over?


October 2009
Dad, can you show me how to shave before the school holidays are over?

I don’t know. It’s over 20 years since I last did it. Look it up on YouTube

December 2009
Dad, can you show me how to shave before the school holidays are over?

I got you a razor and some shaving foam for Christmas. Did you check out YouTube?

April 2010
Dad, I’m just going for a shower. In 15 minutes you’re going to show me how to shave.


And so it came to pass that this morning I did indeed supervise my son’s first shave, having frantically searched YouTube for instruction videos.

It seems these days you’re supposed to shave down the way, in the same direction the hair grows, rather than up the way against the growth, as I was taught. Apparently it reduces razor burn, skin rashes and the chances of in-growing hairs.

But if it hadn’t been for the fact that each time I shaved it was rough, sore and frequently bloody as I skimmed the tops of the rashes with the razor, caused by the previous day’s shave, then I might never have decided to grow a beard at the earliest chance I could get away with it.

In which case, it’s quite possible my wife wouldn’t have been quite so susceptible to my charms (she’s always had a thing about beards).

And almost certainly I would not have started a blog nearly 5 years ago called, “Ramblings of the Bearded One”

It appears my son will have his own path to follow.

Sunday, April 04, 2010


Time seems to be passing both incredibly quickly and as slowly as moving through treacle.

It is now less than 4 weeks to the exhibition and I finally have all the images taken, and a printer sorted. There was one more I wanted to take from the time I first new I was going to do this, but I wasn’t able to convince the guy. He doesn’t like seeing photos of himself as “an old man,” and nothing I’ve been able to say has managed to sway him.

I have to let it go.

Meanwhile, as I don’t expect to sell the images in the exhibition, my only way to recoup the costs of printing and mounting the photos, is if enough visitors decide they like my approach enough to commission me to do their portraits too. In which case flyers for visitors to take away with them are necessary.

So I designed an A5 size leaflet (approx 15 x 21cm) and had 250 printed up for people to take away with them.

Here are images of both sides. You can click on them for full size jpgs if you fancy printing off your own.

I’ve gone for what I think is quite a bold approach. I fully expect some people to be completely turned off by it. But that doesn’t matter. The middle ground is already occupied by thousands of portrait photographers, and I don’t want to be competing for bland and uninspired work.

Quite simply, if I want to be able to do more interesting work then that’s how I have to pitch and target. And it will be those who are more excited by something a bit different who are more likely to approach me. Consequently the blurb reads more like a manifesto for change than a standard sales proposal.

Additionally, I’ve finally got round to setting up a Facebook page for the Portrait Photography. So if Facebook’s your thing, then do consider becoming a fan and tell all your friends.

And if you would like your portrait done by me, but live too far away - it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, if you can get enough friends and neighbours to club together to fly me, Maggie and the kids out for a couple of weeks, I’ll do photo sessions for everyone in return.